A camp stool that once belonged to George Washington and now resides at Georgetown's Tudor Place needs repairs and restoration. has entered the stool into the Virginia Association of Museums Top 10 Endangered Artifacts 2012 contest.
"Over 230 years of camp life and family use, the stool has lost its original upholstery and the fabric webbing that underlay it has grown brittle. Some metal fasteners have corroded and protrude above the walnut frame. Without treatment, Tudor Place will have to remove it from display," according to a press release from the historic home.
Though being selected among the top endangered artifacts does not come with any direct monetary benefit, past items on the list have received grants and donations thanks to the contest's publicity.
That's exactly what Tudor Place is hoping for. "We rely mostly on the support of private individuals and foundations," explained Tudor Place Curator Erin Kuykendall. "We're hopeful that this second year [of the contest] will help draw attention to [the stool]."
According to a press release from Tudor Place, General George Washington ordered 18 folding camp stools in May 1776, from an Irish upholsterer in Philadelphia for his Revolutionary War "marquee." It traveled with him throughout the five years of war and remained in his estate's possession for years thereafter.
The stools were sold off in an estate sale following the 1802 death of Martha Washington. Washington's granddaughter Martha Parke Custis Peter and her husband Thomas Peter purchased six of the 18 folding chairs, according to the press release. The stool on display in Georgetown is one of the few that still exist and the only one that is on regular display. (There is another stool in the Smithsonian collection that also belonged to the Peter family.)
Kuykendall said in order to save the artifact they would need to bring in furniture and textile conservators and an upholstery specialist. Thought she wasn't certain exactly how much the repairs might costs, she estimated it could be as low as $1,000.
"That’s what exciting to me about this. It doesn’t require breaking the bank," said Kuykendall.
She hopes people will vote for it and either a foundation or an individual might step forward to fund the needed treatment.
"It’s something that is relate-able to people...People still use folding stools today," she added.
You can vote for George Washington's Revolutionary War camp stool here.